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Five Ideas: What we learnt at Disabled Students Conference 2017

Wednesday 19-04-2017 - 14:36

Last week, delegates from across the country came together for our annual Disabled Students’ Conference. The event saw three days of discussion, debate and democracy, as policy was passed and the leadership elected for the year ahead. Here are our top five highlights from #NUSdisabled17 đź’Ş 

1. Who will be leading the Disabled Students' Campaign for 2017-18

Rachel O'Brien from University of Birmingham will be your next DSO! Piers Wilkinson will take the Disabled Students' place on NEC, and a full list of the Disabled Students' Committee can be found here. Huge congratulations to all those elected, we look forward to working with you next year!

2. Austerity is a catastrophe for disabled people

Our plenary discussion 'Disabled People and Austerity', with Guardian journalist Frances Ryan and author and campaigner Mo Stewart, explored the impact that seven year of budget cuts have had on disabled people in the UK. It's been catastrophic.

3. FE students need adequate mental health services

During the FE caucus discussion, this year's Disabled Students' Officer James Elliott launched a report looking into mental health provision in further education. Funding cuts and long waiting lists have meant that vital services are out of reach for far too many students. The report also includes a charter for mental health provision in colleges, which has been built with and for FE students.  

4. Language matters

Former NUS DSO Adam Hyland led a fascinating discussion on how disability is framed and discussed. There was a wide-ranging debate about language - particularly the difference between 'disabled person' and 'person with disabilities' - and the value of genuinely celebrating the full diversity of society.

5. NUS Disabled Students' Campaign stands for justice

Conference ended with delegates sending two strong messages of solidarity.

First a message to the Irish government, which has still not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD). People with disabilities in Ireland have been waiting years for their rights to be fully protected by their government, and NUS DSC stands in full solidarity with their struggle.

Conference also sent a message of solidarity to delegate Kelechi Chioba, an asylum seeker from Nigeria and a volunteer with NUS Black Students' and Disabled Students' Campaign, who is facing deportation despite having suffered verbal, physical and sexual abuse. You can read her story and donate to her legal costs here.

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